2 held in possible attempt to aid county jail escape


Two fugitives from Virginia, who may have come to Westminster to aid an escape attempt of a county jail prisoner, were captured by police.

Craig Alexander Coles, 21, of Hempstead, N.Y., and his companion, Melissa Marie Bethea, 19, whose address is unknown, were arrested at 1:50 a.m. in what police believe was a stolen car in the parking lot of the First Assembly of God Church in the first block of Cranberry Road. The arrest was the result of surveillance by state police, county sheriff's deputies and Westminster police.

Police said the woman is the girlfriend of Carl Eric Smithson, who is being held at the Carroll County Detention Center on theft and robbery charges, and that Mr. Coles is an acquaintance. Mr. Smithson is wanted in several states on burglary and theft charges and was captured in a high-speed chase here in August. He is being held without bail.

Mr. Smithson had a dentist appointment outside the jail yesterday, and the name, address and directions to the dentist's office were found in the recovered car. Police took this as evidence of an attempt to aid Mr. Smithson's possible escape. Also recovered was a stolen .22-caliber revolver and stolen Virginia license plates, a police spokesman said. He also said the car was stolen without license plates from the home of Mr. Smithson's mother in Petersburg, Va.

Mr. Coles and Ms. Bethea have been charged as fugitives from Virginia, and extradition proceedings have been started, police said.

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